puzzle

verb
puz·zle | \ ˈpə-zəl \
puzzled; puzzling\ˈpə-zə-liŋ, ˈpəz-liŋ \

Definition of puzzle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution

2 archaic : complicate, entangle

3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice

2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity

2a : something that puzzles

b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

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Other words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ˈpə-zə-lər, ˈpəz-lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb

The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Noun

a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

President Donald Trump is no stranger to making statements that leave his crowds cheering and everyone else puzzled. Travis M. Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "From Elton John to Eminem to Peggy Lee: Trump's bizarre history with pop music," 11 July 2018 Each country sets its own commitments under the Paris Accord, so Trump’s comment is puzzling. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Anatomy of a Trump rally: 76 percent of claims are false, misleading or lacking evidence," 10 July 2018 On Friday, Erno Rubik – the inventor of that puzzling cube that bears his name – turns 74. CBS News, "Calendar: Week of July 9," 8 July 2018 All this leads to puzzling questions about where the measure of music ends and where our experience of it begins. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 Formerly puzzling telescope observations about real galaxies that raised questions about the standard dark matter hypothesis are being explained in the state-of-the-art facsimiles. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It," 16 June 2018 Both on a macro and micro level, Onrush includes a number of puzzling design decisions and execution bobbles. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Onrush game review: Sexy arcade racing in serious need of a tune-up," 5 June 2018 As for the Election Commission, its reputation for staying above politics has been dented by, among other puzzling moves, a decision last October to delay voting in the state of Gujarat for several weeks. The Economist, "People in India often despair of their democracy," 31 May 2018 The series of policy shifts started a few weeks after President Trump said California authorities were being soft on gang crime, an accusation that puzzled most law enforcement leaders in the state. James Queally, latimes.com, "Trump’s claim that California is soft on crime comes as the state moves away from injunctions, once key to the war on gangs," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, a national outlook on self-determination and overcoming constant underestimation may be the pivotal piece in this puzzle. SI.com, "Pride and Passion: Croatia's Unrelenting Fighting Spirit Continues to Carry National Hope," 12 July 2018 And where on Earth are the experts working on the puzzle of matching parents up with their missing children? Rhonda Garelick, The Cut, "The Thai Cave Rescue Cannot Save Us From National Shame," 11 July 2018 The air conditioning was the first piece of the puzzle to upgrading and renovating the gym that serves as a practice facility for Valparaiso’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Matt Lottich says upgrades to Hilltop Gym give Valparaiso a 'Division I quality' practice facility," 4 July 2018 The app helps kids practice vocabulary, comprehension and writing through games, puzzles and books, according to the hospital. Naseem S. Miller, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Poinciana Medical Center installs iPads in ER waiting room," 14 July 2018 Doug McDermott fits the Pacers puzzle and did Paul George grow up? Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Why Indy doesn't have a Reggie Miller statue," 5 July 2018 The machine plays with the puzzle and learns how to solve it from any starting point, McAleer said. Priscella Vega, latimes.com, "Machine taught itself to solve Rubik’s Cube without human help, UC Irvine researchers say," 23 June 2018 Solve the puzzle first, and the rewards are the coins. refinery29.com, "The Money Question You're Too Embarrassed To Ask: What Is Bitcoin?," 12 June 2018 These shows were not exactly known for nuance—the point was to guide the viewer through a crime scene puzzle and then clearly explain the solution, all in under half an hour. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "How The Staircase Defined True Crime Series," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

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Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puzzle

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

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More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved

: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·zle | \ ˈpə-zəl \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.

2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness

3 : something that perplexes : mystery

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